Original Text

Modern Text

The CHORUS enters.


Vouchsafe to those that have not read the story
That I may prompt them; and of such as have,
I humbly pray them to admit th' excuse
Of time, of numbers, and due course of things,
5Which cannot in their huge and proper life
Be here presented. Now we bear the king
Toward Calais. Grant him there. There seen,
Heave him away upon your wingèd thoughts
Athwart the sea. Behold, the English beach
10Pales in the flood with men, with wives and boys,
Whose shouts and claps outvoice the deep-mouthed sea,
Which like a mighty whiffler 'fore the king
Seems to prepare his way. So let him land,
And solemnly see him set on to London.
15So swift a pace hath thought that even now
You may imagine him upon Blackheath,
Where that his lords desire him to have borne
His bruisèd helmet and his bended sword
Before him through the city. He forbids it,
20Being free from vainness and self-glorious pride,
Giving full trophy, signal, and ostent
Quite from himself, to God. But now behold,
In the quick forge and workinghouse of thought,
How London doth pour out her citizens.
25The Mayor and all his brethren in best sort,
Like to the senators of th' antique Rome,
With the plebeians swarming at their heels,
Go forth and fetch their conquering Caesar in—
As, by a lower but loving likelihood,


Allow me to fill in the gaps for those of you who have not read this story. As for those who have, I beg you to excuse the gaps in time, and the many people and things that cannot be represented here in all their magnitude and proper form. Let’s bring the king now to Calais. Imagine him there and, having seen him there, haul him back across the sea on the wings of your imagination. There’s the coast of England: see how the sea seems to be fenced in by the men and wives and boys who line the shore, their shouts and wild applause drowning out the deep roar of the surf. As the king’s ship draws near, the very ocean is like a man running before the king, preparing his way. Let’s have him land and solemnly proceed to London. Thoughts work so quickly that even now you can imagine him on Blackheath, where his lords suggest that he should carry his battle-scarred sword and helmet on a procession through the city. He refuses, as he is free of vanity and self-serving pride and ascribes all the glory and responsibility for victory to God. Now in the factory of thought, create the image of all London pouring forth into the streets. Picture the mayor and all his brother citizens dressed in their best as they go forth like senators of ancient Rome to welcome home their conquering Caesar. Imagine if our own queen’s general returned from Ireland, having stamped out the rebellion there, as we hope he does very soon, how many people would leave the city to come welcome him. Even more people than that welcomed Harry home,